Adapting to the Swedish style of ‘independent study’

Colombian SI scholar Diego Arango, who is studying a master’s degree in Leadership and Management in International Context at Linnaeus University, reflects on independent learning in Sweden and how it is empowering both him and his fellow NFGL members.

Adapting to the Swedish style of 'independent study'
Photo: Diego Arango

When asked about our past, diverse backgrounds, fields of study, and learning methodologies have all played contributing roles. Our previous studies, cultures, and breadth of experiences have defined our personalities, making us each unique. However, having a master's programme in Sweden, where multiculturalism and international scope are highly interconnected, and being SI scholarship holders has created a shared meaning and mutual perspective for all of us.

We have been at Linnaeus University for the last couple of months, and varied master’s programmes of business, tourism, and management identify are now our everyday reality. Kalmar also offers many spaces for interaction, socialization, and mingling where, even though we come from different parts of the world, we all feel we have many things in common.

Photo: Linnaeus University

The Swedish education system is based on credit courses, specific grades (A to F), and a high level of self-study. So, after having submitted our first assignments, we have realised how different and dynamic it is. One of our teachers told us “I only give you a general framework, you must go deeper and get your own view”. Now, we clearly understand what he was saying and how long hours of reading and writing, sharing ideas, and deep research have paid off.

Talking to my fellows, we have come to the idea that thinking outside the box, proposing new ideas, and going unlimitedly further are the key factors to succeed not only in Sweden but also worldwide. We also consider that the Swedish methodology encourages us to keep learning, researching and looking for knowledge which allows us to go further and improve. We now understand that sitting in the classroom is not enough to produce change and it is up to us how far we will go. It has been a common idea that this challenging and valuable experience has made us grow every day.

Finally, some of our fellows have shared some insights and thoughts about this process. For example, Ky Veasna from Cambodia, who is doing a master's programme in Tourism and Sustainability considers “I am so impressed with the independent study system here as it requires me to set up the goals, interests and scopes of my studies. I have been studying hard, spending more time at the library and seeking academic support and advice from classmates”. Besides, Victor Kachabe from Zambia thinks “Swedish education is very interactive and flexible to the learning experience which has made me feel motivated and excited to keep learning.”

Although we are experiencing this adventure very far away from our countries and families, Sweden, the Swedish Institute, and Linnaeus University have empowered us to be the best we can be.

We are proud to be part of this experience!


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.